I wanted to share this description of the Tour Du Teche from one of the racers that's also one of our customers. Jeri St. Blanc paddled the 130 mile route in her Wilderness Systems Tsunami 145. Thought you might enjoy reading it:
Hello to all Tour Du Teche participants! What a wild week-end! It was such a pleasure sharing the bayou with you throughout the week-end. I met many of you at some part of the race and enjoyed the conversations we had. I enjoyed meeting many of your friends, family and bank runners along the route. Their commitment to each of us and support was amazing.
I've been sharing stories with my family and friends just as I'm sure you have also. I would love to hear some of your stories.
This is the first time I've done anything like this so everything was a new experience. Here's a few of my highlights:
I left St. Martinville at 1:30 am (no moonlight) really scary.
I stepped out at Keystone Dam and sunk to my knees in mud- sucked my shoe right off my foot. I then had to portage my kayak through the path without shoes, then down the mountain and over the boulders.
After leaving the dam, I ran into a patch of lilies and something like a branch or tree down across the bayou, not really sure because there was so little light. I was jammed in the lilies and had to pull through them. I just knew a huge gator or moccasin was waiting to devour me. With my heart racing out of my chest, I wildly pulled through.
After getting through I just knew I had made a wrong turn into a drainage canal or something, I found my phone and called my husband to find out if I could have messed up. He assured me if I was on the left side of the bayou I was OK. I gave thanks to the Lord and continued on .
Reached my hometown of Charenton! What a homecoming!!!!!!!!!!!!! Took a rest at my home on the Bayou at the Charenton Bridge. After resting, and realizing the current was not going to turn just because I willed it to, I started out. Within a quarter of a mile, I heard rolling thunder. A gentle rain begins and then a torrential downfall. Ok, I'm beginning to wonder if the Lord is speaking to me. The rain and wind kicks up and is blowing toward Baldwin. Just as I think maybe I'll stay wet and take a free ride with the wind to Baldwin, streaks of lightning come down around me. I pulled my kayak out of the water and turned it over on the bank. All my gear is now drenched. I ran to a house and at that time my husband, hearing the thunder, calls to check on me. He picks me up and after drying up and repacking, I started out again.
Saturday night, we were blessed with more moonlight. The ride from Baldwin to Franklin started out really nice until I hit the bridge at Oaklawn. I knew it would be 6 miles until the Sterling Bridge and there would be little to no homes on the Bayou. I went in already a little apprehensive. I called and reported my position to my husband and Mom then started paddling. I now know where the gators hang out at dark. I saw soooo many gators, I began thinking about "Swamp People." The ones that crossed in front of me, I didn't mind. I would slow up, let them definitely have the right of way. One of them swam at me and then surfaced about 3 ft from me. After that I set a new paddling record. I was truly petrified.
I was told the last leg of the race, past the east gate of the locks, would be an enjoyable paddle without current. They didn't tell me the tour committee was adding wind resistance to make the end so much more memorable. Just kidding.......
All in all, the tour was challenging but such a rewarding experience. When asked if I plan to do it next year, my reply was, "Ask me again in two weeks!"
Jeri H. St. Blanc
Chitimacha Tribe of LA